Symi is a Greek island and municipality. It is mountainous and includes the harbor town of Symi and its adjacent upper town Ano Symi, as well as several smaller localities, beaches, and areas of significance in history and mythology.
The shipbuilding and sponge industries were substantial on the island and, while at their peak near the end of the nineteenth century, the population reached 22,500. Symi’s main industry is now tourism and the population has declined to 2,500.
Geographically, it is part of the Dodecanese island chain, located about 41 km north-northwest of Rhodes (and 425 km from Piraeus, the port of Athens), with 58.1 km² (22 sq mi) of mountainous terrain. Its nearest land neighbors are the Datça and Reşadiye peninsulas of Muğla Province in Turkey.
Its interior is dotted with small valleys, and its coastline alternates between rocky cliffs and beaches, and isolated coves. Its main town, located on the northeast coast, is also named Symi and consists of the lower town around the harbour, typically referred to as Yialos, and the upper town is called Horio or Ano Symi. Other inhabited localities are Pedi, Nimborio, Marathounda and Panormitis.
Panormitis is the island’s famous monastery which is visited by people from all over the world, and many Greeks pay hommage to St Michael of Panormitis each year.The island has 2,606 inhabitants, mostly engaged in tourism, fishing, and trade.
In the tourist season which lasts from Easter until Panormitis Day in early November, tourists and day-trippers increase the number of people on the island to as much as 6000.In addition to its many historical sites, the island’s isolated beaches, many reachable only with small boats, are popular with tourists. The Municipality of Sými includes the uninhabited offshore islets of Gialesíno, Diavátes, Kouloúndros, Marmarás, Nímos, Sesklío, and Chondrós. Its total land area is 65.754 km².
In Greek mythology, Symi is reputed to be the birthplace of the Charites and to take its name from the nymph Syme (in antiquity the island was known as Aigli and Metapontis), though Pliny the Elder and some later writers claimed it came from the word scimmia meaning a monkey. In Homer’s Iliad the island is mentioned as the domain of King Nireus, who fought in the Trojan War on the side of the Greeks.
Since 1995, Symi has hosted the renowned Symi Festival during the months of July to September. This festival was founded by famous Greek political journalist, Ioannis (John) Diakogiannis, who established it in the birthplace of his father Eleftherios C. Diakogiannis.
Since its inception it has attracted many of the leading Greek musicians (Katy Garbi, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, Glykeria, Alkistis Protopsalti, Mihalis Emirlis, Dimitra Galani, Despina Olympiou, etc.) to perform at free open-air concerts in the main square of Yialos, and also consists of many dance and theatre events. Well known Greek artist Eva Geraki has painted the Festival programme’s cover, each year for the past 15 years.
- 16th of June
Agiou Pnevmatos (Holy Spirit)
- 17th of July
St Padeleimon, Nanou Beach
- 20th of July
- 6th of August
Sotiris (Megalos Sotiris)
- 15th of August
Panagia Myrtariotisa, Panagia Alethini
- 24th of August
- 8th of November
Archangel Michael at Panormitis, Michael Roukouniotis
Useful Phone Numbers
Municipality of Symi has posted a list of useful phone numbers on the official site. Check it out here.